Tuesday, 13 March 2007


"School-whool jati hai kya?"
the hapless child is often asked. You see, it has inherited all three pairs of genes from dad so that it is tall, especially when it stands next to me.

So we thought, chalo, lets get it into school-whool. It talks all over the place, can recognise Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan, and knows names of a few brands of dinosaurs, we should be all set. I found out a few local schools. Moms, paediatricians, creche in-charges, all sang praises of this or that school. I rejected many of them because they had weird sounding names, one because they asked me about my religion, and so on. Narrowed it down to two.

I had to put in lots of effort, borrow a five rupee stamp from my assistant, steal an office envelope, get elusive father's signature, remember deadlines, deal with the fat security guard with the glass eye at the holy gates, listen to office staff person wave me off with un-sleeved arms saying "no you cannot borrow my pen. its a family heirloom inherited from Shah Jahaan and is encrusted in diamonds. you look like you steal office envelopes," and finally uff.. managed to submit form with self-addressed, stamped envelope. This was a school, lets call it, oh, school #1.

In school#2 meanwhile, people were at lunch (of course I went during my lunch hour, duh). Two tries and I was like, forget it, they did not even have a jewel-encrusted pen in the office. They are perpetually on vacation it seems. Which is cool and all but all mothers of overly active three year olds will freely admit that vacation for child is nightmare for mom. The husband (ha! revenge for introducing me as "this is the wife") was strangely worried about the school thing so we went across in full suit-boot one day at 10:30 am to school#2.

Meanwhile school#1 sent back golden envelope and said "come with child and original birth certi on such and such date at such and such time."

In school#2, in-charge madam was there in her chambers. There was an aquarium in the chambers. Child was all set with aquarium and fish and gold fish. Madam was really nice, smiling, asked us what we wanted, answered our questions leisurely, said wait for the memo next month and put in application. We reiterated our thing about nursery and LKG and height genes and what not. She was reassuring. We came away after staring into two classrooms - one with little yellow chairs, the other with little red chairs. LKG, afternoon session, three sections.

Back to school#1, which, the perceptive reader will realise, is what this whole post is about actually. We had to attend that thing - you know - not an interview (of course not; else I would have to prepare her for it and all, like them), but something that looked suspiciously like one. We were suitably armed. Husband had his blackberry, and was sweating a bit. I wore my specially dusty Man-Sandals, and did that trick I do where I drop my Nokia and it goes to bits and I put it back again and BINGO! it still works! I arrayed child in a nice frock with a hanky pinned in front. She also wore matching sandals (matching with me that is). Her hair was combed. So we were ushered in. There were butterflies on a computer screen. Child went away to screen ignoring nice aunty. Somehow brought her back to the situation at hand. She was asked to sing a poem by nice aunty. WHOOP. My stomach went. "Dhoom Dhoom Just Take my Love.." is what I expected, at least a "Aaj Ki Raat, Hona Hi Tha..." thankfully a Twinkle Twinkle was sung. I think it was a success, as a chocolate was immediately profferred much to the performers joy.

I tried to justify my sandals by asking about the school, Open House and such random things. Husband pitched in too with such stuff. We were politely, the smile never faltering, dismissed with a "If she is admitted, such state secrets will be divulged." What are her chances? "You know, we have our process" Ouch. Ouch. We hid our faces and returned home, all sober and oh what woe to be parents and what not.

Anyway we discovered a few weeks later to our immense, profound joy that she was admitted! Of course the way we discovered this was by the ominous statement "Please come to the school at such and such date at such and such time, with your check book." OH! Check book? Whatever for? OH! Fees. But school is in like June or something innt it? OH! So we went, with check book, thinking - Cool man, we cough up like 10k or something, and tell them, we will be back once we hear from school#2 - come on, its nursery for heaven's sake.

Two checks, sum total of 55k. Rupees. Not Paise. Now. Not in June. We had a two minute conversation in the corridor with the smiling lady who said stuff like sensory and play-way teaching and three whole hours of school and toilet training is assumed and so on. Open house in June, talk to the teacher then and express your especial concerns about your child (perhaps she does not yet know the last verse of Baa Baa Black Sheep, or woe or woes, thinks Red Riding Hood found the Magic Beans). Parents left right and center making out checks with glee on their faces.

School#2 better come through for us, 'cause we thanked school#1 for indulging us, hugged our check book and scooted. Nursery, for heavens sake. Not even real school if you thought about it. Whats that? Free and compulsory education upto 14 years of age? Sure, here I come.


Vanessa said...

Oh the school admission. My daughter is July 2004 born. The kid has to be 2 and half by December to apply for nursery. She is a month too late. So, the nightmare is postponed for now.
This blog has made me see future. I might be writing somehting similar next year. Huh. I often wonder, how people manage to bring up and educate 2 kids.

SrgntPepper said...

wont school#2 do the same thing? school# cant put itself at such a competitive disadvantage?

atleast, school#2 wanted cheque payment. yest there was an article in the papers about a school in palghar where kids were told to get "cash only" to pay for renovations else they wouldnt be allowed to take their exams!

things are worse in south bombay. you have to register the kid as soon as she is born, and then show up 3-4 yrs later if you have any chance of 'getting admitted'. a clueless friend walked into one such school saying i want to enroll my son for coming summer, and they laughed him off, saying he was 4 yrs too late!


kbpm said...

vanessa - yes, please be warned. 'good schools' start the whole drama as early as Oct/Nov.

SrgntPepper - what I dont mention is that school#2 is operating in a very different league. It is as close to Govt. school as you can get. The South Bombay schools are impossible! Thank god I did not feel obligated even to walk in there to look. My school#1 experience itself has shaken me.

csm said...

guys - home schooling please.


kbpm said...

i will take you up on your home-schooling offer. :-) happy to send child to CSM HOME SCHOOL. you are on, buddy!
jokes apart, you know i did think about it a bit thanks to my complete and utter frustration at all schools of 21st century in India. but she is too hyper, i am too old, dont have patience, and more and more i want her to have heterogeneous experiences. its too long to describe in comments but perhaps you understand what i mean. at this time at least i am least bothered about the curricular material, i mean angular momentum & what not. for that we are there and there is the net. but the attitudes & ideas & thoughts that she will pick up, thats what concerns me i think. Anyway I think our school choice is OK, has some minus points which I have to concentrate on compensating for.
I am game for it.
Somewhat unrelatedly, retirement age upped by 5 years for me. :-)

Vanessa said...

I agree kbpm. Its not just the curriculum. SO many things kids learn at school. Being more social, making friends. In fact, lot of people opposed me when i sent my daughter to a playschool before she turned two. but today, she has become 10 times smarter. Not because they teach anything gr8 there. Just the exposure.

kbpm said...

vanessa- play-school is an excellent thing. i think however hard we try, its not easy for us to give them what they get in school. only trouble is they also get germs, but if we mentally accept that, and have a comfortable pediatrician, then its excellent stuff.
mine also has been in play-school since she was 16 months, which is another reason I am keen to find her a place in KG now rather than nursery.